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Shireen Abu Akleh: US senators call for investigation into journalist's killing

Republican Mitt Romney and Democrat Jon Ossoff call on the Biden administration to ensure 'justice is served' over the killing of Palestinian-American journalist
Pro-Palestine activists call for justice for Shireen Abu Akleh at a Nakba Day rally in New York City, on 15 May 2022 (MEE/Azad Essa)

Two senior US senators have called on the Biden administration to conduct "a full and transparent investigation" into the killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.

Republican Senator Mitt Romney, along with his Democratic colleague Senator Jon Ossoff, called on the State Department on Monday to ensure that "justice is served", in a letter addressed to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

"The killing of a US citizen and of a journalist engaged in the work of reporting in a conflict zone is unacceptable. All over the world, journalists pursue truth and accountability at great personal risk," the letter said.

"Press freedom is a core American value, and we cannot accept impunity when journalists are killed in the line of duty. We insist that the Administration ensure a full and transparent investigation is completed and that justice is served for Ms Akleh's death."

Abu Akleh, 51, was shot dead by Israeli forces on 11 May near the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank while covering an Israeli raid. Her colleague Ali al-Samoudi was also shot and injured. 

Shireen Abu Akleh: US lawmakers call for independent probe into journalist's killing
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Israel had initially said Palestinian gunmen may have been responsible for the death but then backtracked on its statement, saying it was still unclear what transpired.

Eyewitnesses, including MEE correspondent Shatha Hanaysha, said Abu Akleh was targeted by an Israeli sniper.

The bullet that killed Abu Akleh is in the possession of the Palestinian Authority (PA), which has refused a joint probe with the Israelis, saying Israel could not be trusted to investigate the conduct of its military.

Rights groups have also said this, saying Israel has a poor record of investigating the conduct of its forces in relation to Palestinian deaths.

The State Department did not respond to a request from Middle East Eye for comment on the letter or whether the Biden administration would launch an investigation into the killing of a US citizen.

Monday's letter comes just days after a bipartisan group of US lawmakers called for an independent investigation into Abu Akleh's killing. The letter was signed by 24 members of the House - 14 Democrats and 10 Republicans. 

That letter was met with criticism from Palestinians and some Jewish groups, saying that it follows Israeli government viewpoints and calls the Palestinian Authority "obstinate" for not complying with Israel on an investigation.

Al Jazeera has referred the case to the International Criminal Court in the Hague and vowed to bring the killers to justice through all international legal platforms.